Are Celtic better for having had a January transfer window?
With the Bhoys way, way behind Rangers and 10IAR all but over, Celtic had to make sweeping changes. The defence, which was our undoing, had to become stronger. We needed depth in the wings, with Forrest and Elyounoussi missing chunks of the season through injury.
We needed depth at right back, before Frimpong left. As it was, he was our only recognised right-back who was able to play consistently.
Did we do any of those things? No. When Celtic had to strengthen, we probably got worse. Let’s take a look at who’s in, who’s gone, and who missed the boat on a move.
Celtic transfer incomings
Yes, Celtic did bring someone in. Jonjoe Kenny is – technically – a Premier League right-back. From Everton, he’s behind Seamus Coleman in the pecking order, and spent much of last season at a historically bad Schalke side.
While his individual qualities are yet to be seen by the Hoops faithful, it isn’t the most inspiring move. Frimpong’s incredible usage this season will need to be met by Kenny, who is presumably lacking match fitness given his lack of appearances so far this term.
Having represented England at every youth level [Transfermarkt], the Liverpool-born right-back clearly has something about him. Normally, you could say that a season playing for Schalke would be impressive, but they won their first game in a year on the 9th January 2021 [Eurosport].
No doubt, Kenny’s confidence will be shattered by that experience. So don’t expect fireworks from the off, here. As for transfer business in general, this was it. We strengthened one position, temporarily.
Jeremie Frimpong is a sore one to lose, as a personality and a footballing talent. Clearly, with someone so vivacious and keen completely losing their willingness to play for Celtic, there’s a massive problem there.
Celtic were able to boost the coffers with Frimpong’s move to Bayer Leverkusen, while Olivier Ntcham has moved on loan to Marseille [Sky Sports]. From one troubled club to another, Marseille’s most recent match was postponed due to supporters breaking into L’OM’s training centre and causing hundreds of thousands of Euros’ worth of damage [Guardian].
Good luck, Olivier!
The Frenchman hasn’t impressed in the slightest this season. Whether that’s motivation or just misuse, is unclear. An absolute Rolls-Royce of a player when he wants to be, Ntcham just hasn’t met the standards expected of him. And that’s a real shame.
While he’s only away on loan, it’s expected that Villas-Boas’ side will make the move permanent in the summer. A change of scenery, albeit with similar circumstances, could really do the midfielder some good. Clearly, Lennon just doesn’t fancy playing him.
As frustrating as it might be, it’s tempting to look back and wonder how Ntcham might’ve affected matches where Scott Brown was played, earlier in the season. The Frenchman’s range of passing and eye for goal could’ve been utilised in a deeper playmaking position.
I don’t think Celtic ever figured out where Ntcham played best within the midfield. It’s a real shame, and inevitably he’ll prove his worth elsewhere.
Close but no cigar
Ben Davies, somehow, ended up at Liverpool when a move to Celtic looked all but confirmed. There’s no point lamenting that one, that came out of nowhere.
This was a remarkable window, just in terms of sheer profligacy. We’re genuinely left wondering how this happened. Clearly, there’s something structurally wrong within the recruitment department at Celtic.
To have lost out on one or two targets? Understandable, inevitable even. But to very publicly strike out on every single one, barring a last-minute loan move to repalace a player we shouldn’t have lost? That’s a new low.
It was a dreadful Celtic transfer window, and it leaves the club and particularly Neil Lennon and Nick Hammond questions to answer.